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Monday, March 25, 2013

Four tips for dealing with fitness information overload

Image from Flickr, by jontunn
There is a lot of data out there.  There are paleo blogs, vegan blogs, kettlebell blogs, free weight blogs, pilates blogs, and so on.  This doesn't touch the fitness magazines, fitness television shows, podcasts, vblogs, video podcasts, and a million other things.

How is one person supposed to filter through all of the crap and get to the Golden Truth (TM) [patent pending]?

Luckily, there's a few tricks that I use that helps.  A lot.  Here, for a limited time only, are just those tips.

1. Ignore the infomercials

I would like to believe that this one would go without saying, but it doesn't.  Infomercials are really just half hour to hour long commercials.  Just like any other advertising media, it's not about informing you about anything except how to order their miracle product.  Other information may or may not be accurate.  Do yourself a favor and consider everything suspect.

That's not to say there's no reason to buy the product.  However, you need to ignore the hype and make up your mind based on what you perceive to be the real facts.

2.  Understand the science

Sound principles are based on sound science.  You need to understand how your body works and some basics of nutrition.  Otherwise, you're likely to believe any line of bull that gets trotted out in front of you that's framed well enough.

Here's an example.

I'm paleo.  However, I don't actually believe that humans have failed to evolve the capability to digest grains in any way.  Humans have evolved a lot of things through the years, and other creatures have clearly evolved coping mechanisms during that time, so why couldn't we have evolved.  I won't say that I disbelieve it, but I'm skeptical.

What I'm not skeptical of is how grains are calorie dense and lacking a lot of the nutritional needs our bodies have.  They're fine for carbohydrates, but anything else?  Not as much as you would think.  Plus, you can get carbs from other foods as well.  As a result, I've called paleo my diet of choice for about a year now (though I have slipped up from time to time).

You need to be able to do the same.  Understand the science, and it becomes pretty well impossible to be buffaloed.

3. Ignore any diet that's deficient on protein

The human body needs protein.  You need it.  It's essential for building muscle, and it's essential for turning your body into a fat burning machine.  Any diet that is deficient in protein is not a healthy diet.  It's just not.  I don't mean to dog other people's diet, especially when they may well have lost weight on those diets.  However, weight loss can come about from a variety of reasons.  Healthy weight loss requires protein.

Personally, I believe that animal protein is the best way to get your hands on it.  As long as you manage to get enough protein though, it doesn't really matter if it's plant or animal sources.

4.  Gadgets may help, but they're not the answer

The fitness industry is full of gadgets.  There are gadgets that help you do situps.  There are gadgets that will help you do pushups.  There are gadgets that will send bolts of electricity directly to your muscles and create muscle growth without the need for exercise.  Some of these may work, some may not, but none of them are the answer.

At best, these are just tools.  They can help you as a tool to build a healthy lifestyle.  However, none of them will create the awesome bodies the fitness models demonstrating them have.

This goes back to point number one, but a bit more specific.  However, this is one of those things that exists outside of infomercials.  After all, how many people buy a treadmill, believing that it will help them lose weight?  Well, it can, but only as part of a total lifestyle shift.

So there you have it.  Four ways to filter through the information overload.  There will always be a lot of information, and even these tips only will only do so much.  However, if you arm yourself appropriately, you'll be able to navigate the waters of the fitness internet so much easier that you'll soon be handling all the data in new and interesting ways.

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